It's all doom and gloom, right? Wrong.

ended 21. February 2022

Newspage has identified 50 small business owners who are actually feeling upbeat about 2022 despite the cost of living crisis and all the other pressures people are facing right now.

You can read their stories and experiences below. All are available as case studies and to be interviewed. We have small businesses in every corner of the UK if you're looking for upbeat business stories local to you.


50 responses from the Newspage community

Star Quote
"Since lockdown has eased, we are finding more and more of our customers enjoy shopping in a retail environment and our ever-expanding stockists of farm shops and independent shops are doing really well. Thanks to relying heavily on online shopping during lockdown we have gained loyal customers who come back again and again for our luxury handmade chocolate slabs."
Star Quote
"After an undoubtedly tricky few years, we have entered 2022 with a sense of renewed energy and a desire to move forward and grow. Next month we’ll be opening our second shop in the redeveloped Newport indoor market alongside many other independent businesses and it feels really fantastic to be starting something new. The rebirth of the high street is coming and it’s going to be independent!"
Star Quote
"There’s no denying the last couple of years have been tough all round. But I’ve also noticed a shift in mindset, which has been an excellent opportunity for small businesses like mine. The public have become more keen than ever to ‘shop small', supporting handmade businesses like never before. And a big chunk of the spotlight has been on female founders, recognising the enormous contribution our businesses make to the British economy. Our jewellery brand is going from strength to strength and I’m feeling really positive about what 2022 could bring."
Star Quote
"I feel positive for 2022 and my small upcycling business. I reinvent preloved denim garments and host children’s and adults' workshops, which focus on saving denim from landfill. I was recently contacted on Instagram by Take a Break magazine to write an article about my soulful sewing patches and will be featuring in their Take a Break Makes magazine on 3rd March. I was also contacted on Instagram by BBC Radio Lincs/Humbs/York to chat with a presenter about my business. I didn’t seek out these people, they found and followed me and it’s given me a real boost to value my little creative business."
Star Quote
"The Maidstone Art Centre is experiencing an above and beyond response to our sessions. People have been isolated, bored and have felt desperation during the pandemic and are now reaching out to do something different and become a bigger part of the community. As a community arts centre, we have seen our business grow week on week as the public take tentative steps to rejoin the world and normality. Our not-for-profit company is going from strength to strength and even though we are unfunded, we are still seeing a rise in profits and are even taking the step to expand our business premises and offer even more art sessions, events and workshops. 2022 is looking really bright for us and, in turn, for our community."
Star Quote
"I started Nauti by Nature in 2019 through a love of beachcombing and a desire to fulfil my creative ambitions. It began as a hobby, making sea glass jewellery, and I eventually opened an Etsy shop. In 2021, I decided I wanted more control over the business and created a website. My business has slowly grown since then and my best periods of sales have been fuelled by the Not on Amazon Facebook page. I work part-time in a professional job alongside Nauti by Nature, and live on a sailboat in Cornwall. I moved onto the sailboat four years ago. This came about after a traumatic family time when my teenage daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumour and underwent a challenging couple of years of surgery and rehabilitation. As she recovered she wanted to live an independent life and I, having realised life is uncertain, decided to take a chance and realise my dream of living on a boat. My partner and I plan to take this freedom from the rat race even further. In 2023, we plan to leave our day jobs and set sail around the world. I will beachcomb my way around the world’s beaches making jewellery from my finds and rely on Nauti by Nature for a regular income. Scary but exciting! I see Not on Amazon as an important part of this future! I think customers value handmade now more than ever and the group brings like-minded sellers and buyers together in a perfect marketplace."
Star Quote
"I started my small business when the pandemic resulted in me being made pandundant in October 2020. At the time, I thought it would be a little bit of income to tide me over while I looked for a new job. As a single mum to a then 2-year old, losing my regular income was terrifying but I could not have imagined that thanks to social media, especially Facebook groups created specifically for small businesses like Not On Amazon, I have managed to grow my little business into a full-time job. I could go back and work for one of the giant companies that let me go so easily, and yes I would earn more money, but I am now doing something I love, working for myself and am able to give my now 4-year old the time she needs. The one good thing to come from this pandemic for me is the huge increased level of support people are giving to small businesses, rather than the giants of retail, and I really hope this doesn’t change as life gets back to a new normal. Fingers crossed for all the small businesses out there."
Star Quote
"I think it’s important for small businesses to be positive this year and concentrate on what their customers love them for. 2022 could be a good year for those businesses with great service and products who have built a loyal following, as value for money isn’t all about price. Personally, when money is tight I am less likely to take a chance on new but will choose to spend my money with a trusted retailer who has proven their product and service in the past, and I believe that’s how my customers feel, too. During the pandemic and since, there has been growing love for independent and local businesses and an understanding that keeping money in the local economy is good for all who live and work there. Our customers have stood by us in tough times before and I have faith they will again."
Star Quote
"It is hard out there right now but I'm confident that, as we all become more mindful of our shopping and spending habits, we will see growth among small independent retailers. Value isn't just about price but the overall experience and social value and impact. I have seen a massive shift in the way my customers talk about shopping. There's been a huge turnaround in people's attitudes to online shopping and more and more people are seeing the ethical, environmental and feel-good benefits to shopping local and supporting small. The 'Death of the High Street' narrative has to be taken with a pinch of salt. It's certainly not what I'm seeing around me."
Star Quote
Fox and Rainbow
"I have a small, home-based printwear business where I make mainly T-shirts. The two posts I've made on the Not on Amazon Facebook group saw my sales go off the scale. This group enabled me to pay for my kids' Christmas presents. People really are choosing to shop small and local at the moment, and at a time when basic living costs are rising rapidly, it means that families like mine can literally keep food on the table."
Star Quote
"When the pandemic hit I thought I was doomed as I sold the vast majority of my crochet products at craft fairs and in independent shops. With the shops shut and fairs cancelled, I quickly set up a website and was lucky to find out about the Facebook group, Not on Amazon, quite early. Not On Amazon has made a massive difference to my crochet business, so much so that I’ve had to employ two people and I’m now looking for a third. Every time I pop a post on the group, I get lots of orders, so many that I’ve had to stop posting as often as I can’t keep up. "Another couple of things that really helped my business was having Henry Cavill wear one of my crochet lion hats whilst he ran a charity marathon and, when I accidentally crocheted a poo, it ended up on the Jeremy Vine show. "I just randomly sent Henry a lion hat because I knew he ran ’The Durrell Challenge’ every year and zoos were particularly struggling with all the lockdowns. I thought about running it myself to raise money but thought it might kill me as I’m not a runner, more of a couch potato so this was the next best thing. It somehow got to him and he seemed to like it enough to wear it and put pics on his Instagram. "This year I’m hoping to expand a bit more by setting up a dedicated Quirky Cactus workshop in the garden."
Star Quote
"It's a relief that hospitality is getting back into action and I'm optimistic that our business can service the industry with our UK-made aprons. We design for longevity with sustainability in mind and my hope is that the adage that quality will win through prveails."
Star Quote
"There's an almost tangible feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air as we emerge from the pandemic. Shops and offices are reopening, social events are gathering pace, there are signs of Spring appearing. For many consumers and businesses, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and there is no doubt that this will kickstart the economy over the coming months. It's been proven that periods of economic downturn generate what's known as the "lipstick effect" in which women, particularly, look for ways to boost their mood and self-esteem. We're already seeing searches for beauty products, namely skincare, supplements, and sustainable lines, soaring as people return to work and pleasure, all with a renewed focus on looking and feeling great. This trend will only increase as the nights get shorter and we all dream of summer days."
Star Quote
"I have been a micro-business owner for twelve years and I believe that now, more than ever, is a good time to be self-employed. There are so many opportunities and because we're so flexible, we're able to rapidly move with ever-changing circumstances. I have recently grown my media company and have increased the number of freelance staff that I work with."
Star Quote
"The pandemic hit our ability to fundraise like a huge bomb and continued slowly decimating our reserves over two years, whilst simultaneously growing the demand for the support we offer by 200%. Yet we now see sparks of light at the end of that dark tunnel. January has felt like being transported back to the long forgotten winter of 2020. We have amazing individuals fundraising for us. In person, we have events being booked in with people signing up and getting involved. We are feeling positive and confident that the year ahead is going to be a good one, getting our charity back on track and stronger for the experience."
Star Quote
"We are feeling positive about the year ahead. We are still seeing a growth in our online sales with January sales up 50% on January 2021. As restrictions lift and we are all out socialising and off on holidays again, we are confident there will be continued demand for affordable women’s fashion accessories."
Star Quote
"I've noticed a real uptake in the last twelve months of people looking for handmade and bespoke items. It really feels like people want more connection with the things they buy, and more importantly connection with those who made it."
"We have just completed "The Spectacular Challenge to £1 million". It is a group of small businesses that gathered together to create £1 million into the economy in the month of January. There were only 21 businesses that took part this year, but we were a small and mighty team of positive people and created £888k in just one month. Janaury was just the beginning of what is going to be a brilliant year for businesswomen and small businesses in general. We work hard to be successful, and a positive outlook is one of the key components in seeing and reaching for the possibilities."
"We feel incredibly positive about 2022. Since the New Year, we have noticed a huge upsurge in enquiries about remortgaging, both across residential and equity release mortgages. When finances are squeezed, which they undoubtedly will be in 2022, people review their mortgage and many are getting a surprise about how much the equity in their property can help support them."
Energy hikes, tax rises and all the other negativity notwithstanding, I have had the best 2 years in my business history to date. No doubt due to the previous 5 years of hard toil, my agility, low overheads and downright tenacity to make my business work has reaped rewards, and is continuing to do so. Plans that were on hold are now being revived and I have seen no dip in the number and breadth of tender opportunities across the UK for SME's. Whilst tendering for government (and other) contracts is not for every business, I have seen an upturn in demand and (fortunately) this does not seem to be affected by the 2 steps forward/4 steps back dance of other political whims.
Following our near demise in March 2022 as a face to face training company, that year was all about reinvention and our battle to save the company. Having changed our business model to virtual and blended delivery we were able to stabilise. We ended the year with a small profit but this year has seen bookings soar, particularly for Women's Development and E,D and I. Virtual delivery has opened up new global markets which might not have happened without the pandemic and we feel hugely positive about 2022.
"I'm absolutely buzzing about 2022! I've got over 100 events already booked in for the year and new dates are streaming in on a daily basis. Weddings and events have certainly bounced back and people are ready to party more than ever!"
"We are very positive about the year ahead. Our sales grew strongly in the run up to Christmas, and January turned out to be far better than we anticipated. Whilst the cost of living crisis poses significant risks along the way, I am optimistic for the economy as a whole. We are one of the first major economies to declare the end of Covid rules and the very active jobs market seems to be a positive indicator."
"It's been doom and gloom for far too long now. While we still have our struggles around price increases, staffing, energy costs and whatever next, we will not let it squash our vision and enthusiasm for the future. We're fighters and we've survived so far and we won't stop now. At BEAR, we're looking to go live with a public Crowdfunding Campaign later this year to further support the growth of our investment into our e-commerce channel. Letterbox by letterbox, we're helping people discover better coffee. This will also enable us to raise further finance to open more stores and improve the quality of coffee on our high streets alongside brunch and cocktails. What's not to love! Our story isn't over yet, it's only just begun!"
Here at Divine Box we all made it one of our goals for 2022 to promote positivity, especially after the past 2 years. Following from this goal I wanted to spread positivity further afield and so we released our pamper packages to promote mental health and self care. These pamper packages are used to encourage people to take time out for themselves and the feedback has been incredible for them. Why stop at feeling positive within your team? A smile can spread across the globe if only we all share our smiles. 2022 is the year to really learn and adjust back into normal life and that excites me and the team.
"After a tough couple of years, and no financial support, I'm much more positive about 2022. In March 2020, my work disappeared overnight as all my training was delivered face to face in the room. I moved to running online sessions that have been going well, but not at the level I'd seen previously. Since the turn of the year I've seen things starting to pick up and have begun face-to-face delivery again. I've also maintained a nice balance of digital delivery alongside it. A particular area I focus on is helping businesses to manage their remote and hybrid team working more effectively, which is particularly relevant at the moment and likely to stay that way. I've got as much work booked in my diary for this year already as I delivered in the whole of 2021. I'm very positive about 2022 and the opportunities it will bring for my business."
"2022 is set to be the best year yet for Web Goddess. The pandemic has brought many challenges for small businesses across the UK, but I have seen a huge wave of people who have left the 9-5 to become self-employed. This in turn has led to more work for me supporting these new businesses as they navigate the online world. I also never considered being an employer, but in October last year my first part-time employee started and if things continue at this pace I can see the need for another employee by the end of this year, too. It feels really great to be able to offer work at a time when so many people are struggling. My positive attitude and the fact that I love seeing other small businesses succeed has helped greatly over the past 24 months and I can't wait to see what the future holds."
"It's not all doom and gloom in Derbyshire. If the past two years have taught us anything, it's that change isn't always a bad thing! As a financial services business that recoils against stuffy and old-fashioned ways of doing things, which has embraced homeworking and video conferencing, we have grown from three staff to 15 in that period. We're also recruiting more as we look to launch a commercial mortgage brokerage as well as a pension and investment advisers. Niches for businesses to grow into definitely still exist, they just might not be where you used to look."
"As a travel business, it's fantastic to say that we have a positive outlook for 2022. Health Travel has seen a soaring rise in bookings for health and wellness retreats, with more holidaymakers opting for rewarding experiences during their trips. With the UK at the forefront of removing travel barriers, we're extremely excited about what the rest of the year will bring for us and our clients."
"As a new broker in the self-employed mortgage market, we're very positive about our prospects for the year ahead. Whilst the pandemic has seen some people return to employment, the overall trend over the past decade is steady growth in self-employment. We're riding that wave and hugely excited about the growth opportunities."
"2022 is set to be a transformative year for UK businesses and what we’re seeing in the market is many anticipating this year to be one of innovation, growth and prosperity ahead of them — us included. The news of a GDP rise of 7.5% last year is the music to our ears we’ve been wanting to hear for a long time now. It confirms that the momentum for growth we’re feeling shouldn’t slow down and we need to harness that feeling. It’s rewarding to see that despite what remained a challenging year, the classic “keep calm and carry on” attitude of UK business owners has certainly prevailed and our economic rebound is thanks to that."
"During December and January we were fighting fit and well ahead of forecasts. Guests were booking their UK staycations with gusto, blissfully unaware of the financial climate lurking around the corner. We rely entirely on guests having enough disposable income to afford a holiday in Salcombe, and it seems our client base are very resilient. The bookings are still coming in as sure as a high tide."
"The latest GDP figures are encouraging and show the UK economy to be in a better state than most commentators expected after the worst effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. While Covid-19 is still a concern, our experience is that commercial confidence is stronger than it has been for some time and as a business we are optimistic of at least equalling, if not exceeding, our 2019 performance and so be certain of showing genuine growth."
"During December, we wondered whether it would be another 'doom and gloom' period. Let's face it the hospitality and events industries have been one of the hardest hit during this pandemic. But January arrived and became one of the most positive months we've experienced in a long time. One thing is clear, people absolutely want to participate in live events, experiences and bring their teams, clients and members together. Let's hope this positivity continues throughout 2022 and beyond, and I've no reason to believe it won't."
"While the past two years have been challenging, and there will still be obstacles ahead, for both us and our clients there is a spark of hope and optimism for the year ahead. For ourselves, we have become more resilient and agile as a business, and have been able to take advantage of new opportunities and an increased focus on the health of employees as a competitive advantage. And in our clients we see the same, even with costs going up for many, they are seeing it as a challenge to step into, rather than a threat that will limit them. 2022 will be our biggest year yet and we're not alone seeing the potential, as the status quo has been well and truly shaken up."
"Noone knows what the future holds, but what we can control is how we approach it. Our mindset, our flexibility and approach to the future. I've been self-employed for almost 20 years and I've run four different businesses. During that time I've seen all manner of changes from pandemics, to world economic meltdowns, and even horrific terrorist attacks. But I'm still here. As a business we make informed decisions to consciously drive our business forward. We embrace technology and change. We adapt to what our customers want. We provide great products twinned with fantastic service and constantly strive to improve. From this approach we have a belief that what we are doing will always work. Without that stalwart self belief, you may as well close up today."
"I was made 'pandundant' in 2020, so I started my own business and have never looked back since. With so many businesses ditching their marketing teams, it has left spaces in the market that need support. Businesses who cut back on their marketing right now are fools, and the ones who invest will come out on top once this crisis is over."
"Omicron decimated live events for us again and the last few months have been quiet, but I'm very pleased to say that 2022 looks to be our busiest year yet, with bookings flying in for events taking place all over the world, from Manchester to the Maldives!"
"As a small business owner, I’m feeling very positive for 2022. Whilst we face the same issues as everyone, including the extortionate rise in energy prices, Brexit cost implications and a rise in costs generally, I feel that 2022 is the year for small businesses to leverage the gains made since 2020. Small businesses are seeing a big uptick in interest and orders, thanks to the rise of social media influencers and the trend of shopping small. With the likes of Stacey Solomon really championing the ‘little guys’, I’m hopeful we’ll be able to capitalise on this mindset shift in the British psyche."
"I'm feeling very positive for 2022. As a digital strategy agency owner, it's a fantastic time to be in digital, and since a significant number of UK businesses have had to move their operations online, more and more are looking to digital savvy marketing agencies to help them out."
"2022 is off to a cracking start for us. We are excited for the growth and development that this next year could bring and what it will mean for us as a small business."
Essentially Medical, providers of free in-house medical education to GPs and other healthcare professionals, are forecasting a bumper year for doctors learning. They will be able to catch up on new developments in medicine, new and existing services in hospitals, both of which have taken 'a back seat' during the Covid pandemic. GP surgeries are booking a wide range of clinical meetings throughout the year and it is always beneficial for both Consultants to meet and discuss patient case histories.
We're a small family run catering & events company and we couldn't feel more excited about the year ahead. We're celebrating 19 years in business this year & 2022 looks to be one of our busiest years to date. The last 2 years could have been devastating, we held our nerve & diversified, taking ourselves out to markets with our food produce stall during lockdown which kept us visual & motivated. We're now back doing what we love, creating fabulous events & lots of them.
I'm positive about 2022 as I'm teaching resilience and an amazing somatic stress management tool - and that's exactly what we all need right now, isn't it?
"I'm really excited about 2022, and one of the main reasons is the Not On Amazon Facebook group. I'm not exaggerating when I say this group changed my life. When I wasn't a paying member and posting once a week, I'd get a fair few sales if a post blew up. Once I became a paid member and could post more, from December onwards I've actually been making enough to cover all our bills. Before I was struggling but now I have this group I'm finally a bit more financially stable and I can't thank the admins and Jamie Rackham enough for all they do."
"We run a small powerboat training and charter company on the South Coast called Get Lost Powerboat Training. The massive increase in Staycations has had a real boost to our intake. We’ve been able to share our passion for adventure and the sea with a a diverse range of customers from all over the country. The outlook for 2022 looks positive and we will be losing ourselves on the ocean with a great many people this summer."
"As electricians who concentrate on Electric Car Charger Installation we are already seeing the advantages with record installs each month. This can only get better as more and more people make the switch."
Running a successful clinical hypnotherapy practice and practitioner training school during the pandemic and beyond has actually seen a huge growth in client support and people wanting to retrain to support people. With the huge deficit in mental health support especially early support for children struggling with anxiety and low confidence, being able to offer private and confidential support for them right now and without a 6 month waiting list for many is life saving. Supporting children and adults to support themselves with solution focused hypnotherapy gives them tools for life.
The last two years have shown just how resilient small retail businesses like us can be when they have to! We feel that we've risen to the challenge and emerged stronger than ever. For the last 28 years, our Lifestyle and Gift Shop had been open seven days a week, so to close the doors to our customers was a scary experience. I remember wondering how we would we manage. Myself and my husband run the business together so its our sole source of income. But also the business is based in my parent's home and they rely on the shop to support the maintenance of the 425 year old building. It was a worrying time. Fortunately, we had our website and fulfilment already set up. Like most small businesses we furloughed our staff and went back to doing it all ourselves, day in day out. Luckily, our teenage daughter was keen to help us out- we were like the Three Musketeers! Although it was a strange time, we were overwhelmed by the support we had from our customers who used our online shop to send heartfelt gifts to friends and family all over the country and the world. Despite the challenges, we worked incredibly hard and maintained our usual speed and quality of service. Alongside our gift wrapping option, we offered a free card writing service (my mum helped us out with this, she has lovely handwriting!). We were so touched by the messages we were privileged to write. They frequently had us in tears, sometimes sad, but more often happy and heart warming. When shops re-opened in the summer, we launched our 'Live Local Love Local' campaign to encourage our customers to use other small shops in our village. Again, our customers were so supportive. We were bowled over with their enthusiasm which really helped bring our community back to life after lockdown. Since then, our business has really bounced back. We refreshed our shop and expanded the ranges substantially. We particularly increased our local and UK suppliers as well as more eco-friendly and sustainable products both of which customers have really appreciated. The highlight of the last 12 months was to win the award for Best Gift Shop in Leicestershire & Rutland for the second time running. It was especially precious to us as it was voted for by the public. Looking ahead, we really feel that customers value and appreciate independent shops more than ever before. They've been so grateful for the extra services we provided through lockdown, its built even greater loyalty and we are really positive about the future.
"We're a small electronics design company based in Nottingham that has been able to double our headcount during the past 12 months and be recognised as Design Team of the Year on a global platform. Part of the reason for this, I think, is the increase in demand for ethical tech. We founded the business on the principle that we’ll only work on electronics projects that don’t harm people, animals, or the environment. We’ve actually turned down three projects in the past year on these grounds."